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Test 6

Part 6

You are going to read an article about how the Egyptian pyramids were built. Six sentences have
been removed from the article. Choose from the sentences A–G the one which fits each gap
(37–42). There is one extra sentence which you do not need to use.

Mark your answers on the separate answer sheet.

Has one of the mysteries of the ancient pyramids


been solved?
A painting in a 3000-year-old tomb suggests how the Ancient Egyptians may have
transported the heavy stones used to build the pyramids.
Ever since the discovery of the first pyramid, This revelation was made by researchers from the
scientists have wondered how ancient Egyptians University of Amsterdam and the Foundation for
built these monumental structures that are visible Fundamental Research on Matter. The scientists
even from space. arrived at this conclusion after conducting extensive
testing in their laboratory, by sliding a weighted tray
There are a number of theories about the construction across both dry sand and sand that had been mixed
techniques they used. 37  Egyptologists with varying amounts of water. In dry sand, heaps
had always wondered how workers were able to formed in front of the tray as it was dragged along.
move the giant limestone blocks. These weigh as 40
much as 2.5 tons each, and the stone quarries from
which they were cut were often located hundreds of However, as the researchers added water, the sand
kilometres away from the pyramid sites. hardened, which helped reduce both the force
needed to pull the tray and the friction against it.
Dragging them on basic wooden sledges, similar to That’s because the water helps form tiny water
those people use to slide down snow-covered slopes bridges, known as capillary bridges, between the
in winter, was the obvious answer. 38 sand particles, causing them to stick together.
It now turns out that the workers probably did 41   The force required to pull the sledge
have some assistance – from ordinary water! What would have been reduced by as much as 50% as the
is even more amazing is that the answer to the sand became stiffer, which meant that half as many
Egyptologists’ puzzle has been staring them in the workers were needed to move the heavy stones.
face for many years, in a wall painting in the tomb
of an ancient Egyptian king, or pharaoh. There was a tipping point, though. After the
moisture exceeded a certain amount, the stiffness
The artwork, which depicts a pharaoh being pulled started to decrease and the capillary bridges melted
along by a large team of workers, has one significant away, causing the sand to clump up around the
detail that had so far been misinterpreted – a man tray once again. According to the researchers, the
pouring water in front of the sledge the pharaoh perfect balance appears to be when the volume of
is being dragged upon. Egyptologists had always the water is between 2 – 5% of the volume of sand.
thought that the man was performing some kind 42 And so another step has been taken
of religious ritual. However, some scientists now towards understanding the incredible feat achieved
believe that the water was being poured for a totally by these ancient engineers. Now if we could only
different reason. 39 find a painting that would tell us how the workers
erected these impressive structures without access
to modern mechanics, that would be amazing!

38
Reading and Use of English

A However, to do so would have required D One question, however, had been left
superhuman strength against the friction unanswered.
of the desert sand.
E The pyramid builders seem to have realised
B This allowed them to work out exactly how that this was the correct proportion.
much of it had been used every time.
F The effect of this turns out to be significant.
C This slowed it down dramatically.
G It was to help the sledge move more easily
across the sand.

39

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